Cyprus is an island of breathtaking scenery, with beautiful sandy beaches set against a landscape of rugged cliffs, dense pine forests, field after field of vines, citrus and banana trees, and 127 endemic flower varieties found nowhere else in the world. Steeped in mythology and widely believed to be Anthony's gift to Cleopatra and the birthplace of Aphrodite, this island, with its high standard of modern-day living, still retains a strong sense of the historic in the smaller villages, it is as though time has stood still for centuries.
Recognised as the most sun-sure spot in the eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus enjoys an average of 340 sunny days per year and low annual rainfall. Wherever you go, you will find that the local people are friendly and welcoming, and that English is widely spoken throughout the island. The currency is in pounds and cents in the same denominations as the British pounds and pence, driving is on the left, electricity is 240V using 3-pin plugs and telecommunication services are good. No vaccinations are required and both public and private healthcare services are of a high standard.
Head off in any direction from the main towns and, within a few kilometres, you are in an area of rugged hills and rolling countryside or long stretches of sandy beaches. The Paphos Region, which spans the whole western area beginning just a short distance east of Paphos International Airport, includes monasteries, mosaics, nature reserves, gorges, pine forests, vine-yards and wineries, small mountain villages and golf courses, as well as the beaches, shops, bars and restaurants in and around the main resorts of Paphos, Coral Bay, Polis and Latchi.
Well-connected to the rest of the island by scenic routes or motorway, the furthest-most resorts of Ayia Napa and Protaras are reachable within three hours, Larnaca and Nicosia within two hours and Limassol within 45 minutes of Paphos. The Troodos mountain resorts of Omodos, Platres and Kakopetria are just one or two hours away.
Once divided into two geographically-separate areas, Kato (lower) Paphos and Ktima or Pano (upper) Paphos have gradually expanded and joined to form one large town. There are so many historical and archaelogical sites within upper and lower Paphos that UNESCO decided against listing them all separately and simply added the whole town to it's World Cultural Heritage List. Characteristically, however, Kato Pafos and Ktima remain very distinct from each other. Both have their own historic and cultural sites and attractions but Kato Pafos is the beach, harbour and tourist resort, whilst Ktima is the residential, retail and commercial area.
Under Roman rule, Kato Pafos was the capital of Cyprus. With the decline of the Roman Empire, the capital moved to and remains in Nicosia. Nowadays, Kato Paphos is the 'Western Cyprus Riviera' and most hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs etc, in the region are situated along this coastal strip. Many Cypriot, as well as international tourists, choose to spend their holidays here and there can be no better recommendation than local recommendation.
The most lively bars and clubs with late-night licences are based mainly in or around the 'Bar Street' area so are easy to find, or avoid, depending on your point of view.
The picturesque pedestrianised harbour is the focal point of Kato Paphos and, from here, you can also take local cruises or glass-bottomed boat trips which run several times daily in the long summer season. Or, if you prefer to keep your feet on solid ground, an ideal place to just relax and enjoy the view from one of the harbourside fish restaurants or cafes.
Places of interest/activities in the area include: The mosaics of Paphos; The Tombs of the Kings; The Medieval Fort; local cruises; glass-bottom boat trips; beaches and watersports; Aphrodite Waterpark; and Paphos Aquarium.
Built on an elevated, rocky escarpment, the central town area of Ktima was perfectly designed to make itself virtually impenetrable from attack. Apart from the panoramic views you can enjoy from this height, you will find that the cobbled street market area has many cafes and tavernas offering more traditional Cypriot food at very low prices, intricately designed jewellery and silverware, and a variety of local crafts and ceramics.
Places of interest/activities include: Archaeological museum; Neo-classical architecture; central market; the Hammam and, of course, plenty of retail therapy.
Kato Paphos has its own beaches but many visitors and residents prefer to head for Coral Bay and its 2km stretch of sand. (Near the shoreline you can sometimes see deposits of what looks like salmon-pink sand but is actually fine coral - hence the name!) The bay has all the amenities that you would expect from such a popular beach, including beach beds and umbrellas, a couple of cafes and all the usual water sports. Swimming is particularly pleasant here and the sea remains warm until early December.
Located 1km further along the main road from Coral Bay is Corallia (the local Paphos buses 10 and 15 terminate here). The long stretch of its sandy beach curves round two bays and there are a couple of small islands in the first bay which form a natural wind break. Quieter than Coral Bay, the area has just a few shops and restaurants and is very peaceful.
Places of interest/activities in and around the Coral Bay/ Corallia area include: Snake George Reptile Park; Pafos Bird Park; the Sea Caves, beaches and watersports.
Tala has become one of the premier locations in the Paphos region, yet the village still retains its traditional character with small shops and tavernas set round the central square and church. High on a hill, Tala enjoys uninterrupted, panoramic views and is a scenic mountain walk (or nail-biting drive) away from the nearby Adonis Falls.
Well connected and easily accessible by main road, the village lies just 5km north of the coast and is located halfway between Pafos and the sandy beaches of Coral Bay and Corallia. The airport is just a 30 minute drive away.
Places of interest nearby Tala include: the Adonis Falls; Ayios Neophitos Monastery.
A small residential village set high on a hill in a tranquil setting, Tsada is well connected to Paphos just 5kms away by the main northerly road to Polis. A lush, green area, Tsada is the ideal location for its 18-hole championship golf course.
Places of interest near Tsada include: the Tsada Golf course and, just a short drive away,monasteries and traditional villages from Kallepeia to Yiolou.
Heading west just a short drive down the coast is the small fishing harbour of Agios Georgios, which sits in a breakwater in front of a small island, and was formerly the important settlement of 'Drepanum' in Roman times. It is now primarily known for its small, quiet shingle beach and its three or four good souvla (spit roasted charcoal grilled meat) and fish restaurants.
If you have only a short time to spare, it is worthwhile timing your visit to coincide with sundown from late spring to early winter the sunset here must be one of the most dramatic in Cyprus. Just up from the shingle bay are some natural rock caves through which you can clamber, and to the north, you can see the start of the totally unspoilt nature reserve of the Akamas peninsula.
A few kilometres north from Agios Georgios, Toxeftra beach is essentially the mouth of the Avakas gorge and can be reached (somewhat bumpily) in an ordinary car. As part of the turtle conservation area, Toxeftra has no amenities so peace and seclusion are virtually guaranteed. The nearby gorges of Avakas and Koufon are well worth the time and energy needed to explore them fully - both are spectacularly steep-sided and home to rare, endemic vegetation, birds and wildlife. Past Toxeftra the track to Cape Lara is often deeply rutted and this journey is only really advisable in a 4-wheel drive or as part of a jeep safari excursion.
At Cape Lara, apart from fabulous scenery and unspoilt beaches, you will find Lara Turtle Station on the northerly bay, which is one of several local nesting grounds of the endangered green and loggerhead turtles. In 1978 the Lara Turtle Conservation Project and its field station were established in an attempt to reverse the decline in the mortality rate and the coastal area from Toxeftra to a few kilometres beyond Lara declared a protected area. So far, the Project volunteers have managed to quadruple the yearly survival rate for hatchlings.
A large residential village 2km north of the coast and a short distance northwest of upper Paphos, Emba is on flat land surrounded by agricultural fields. In addition to shops, cafes and tavernas, Emba has its own small theatre and a lovely 12th Century domed church with impressive frescoes and iconostasis.
The largest of the suburban villages, Geroskipou borders the east of Pafos but retains its own village identity. Known for its arts and crafts, particularly pottery and Loukoumia (Cyprus delight), Geroskipou also has one of the best Folk Art Museums on the island. A short distance south from its central square and park is a pebble/sandy beach, the Aphrodite Water Park, go-karting, mini-golf, five-a-side football pitch and amusement (lunar) park.
High in the hills, the village of Kathikas is surrounded by pine forests, vineyards and agricultural land. It is a 30 minute drive southwest to Paphos harbour and a 15 minute drive northwest to the coastal resorts of Polis and Latchi. Although Kathikas is just a small village it has all necesseary amenities, as well as a couple of restaurants deserving of their regional acclaim. Two nearby wineries help to ensure that you will not be short in your choice of red and white wines.
Halfway between Kato Paphos and Coral Bay, Kissonerga is a small village in the heart of the banana plantations and a short distance uphill from the coast. Surprisingly, for a village in its location, there is little in the way of tourist accommodation and development is on a much smaller scale than that of its neighbouring villages Emba and Chloraka.
A small village set high on a hill in the scenic suburbs of Paphos, Konia is a largely unspoilt green area with fabulous coastal views. It is just five minutes' drive from the outskirts of Paphos and benefits from refreshing breezes even in the height of summer.
18kms east of Paphos is Petra tou Romiou (otherwise known as Aphrodite’s Rock), which is widely believed to be the birthplace of Aphrodite. This imposing monolith is part of an incredibly scenic shoreline which can be visited up-close or seen from a number of hilltop or roadside viewing platforms. Although there is little here to actually ‘do’, this is a truly atmospheric place and definitely not one to visit without a camera.
Places of interest/activities around Petra tou Romiou include: Kouklia and the ancient city of Palaeo Paphos; Byzantine grotto and frescoes of Palea Enklistra; and the Secret Valley golf course.
14km northwest of Paphos and 3km north of Coral Bay lies the hillside village of Peyia. One of the most popular residential villages, it has an attractive cistern-fountain square, a number of good cafes and tavernas, and all the amenities and facilities you need. Peyia village overlooks the sea and the views down across the valley and along the coast are simply stunning.
Polis is a small town overlooking the Chrysochou Bay and is very popular with those who prefer a quieter, more relaxed pace of life but don’t want to be too far from all the usual amenities. A short distance away lies the pretty fishing village of Latchi. There is a good pebble beach and several sea and harbourside tavernas offering freshly caught produce. A few miles further along the coast takes you to the Baths of Aphrodite, almost at the most northerly tip of the Akamas peninsula. Even though the Bath itself is little more than a small pool, the surrounding area is picturesque, the views from the cliff-top are breathtaking and the shallow bay below is perfect for swimming and snorkelling.